Justice League is awesome.
As a long time comic book/DC fan (and a guy who loved Man of Steel, Wonder Woman & Batman V Superman), I can happily say I had a smile on my face the entire run time. Yes, it does try to cram a lot into that two hour run time, but it works. This film sets up new heroes, the Justice League team, and hints at a greater DCEU that I’m completely invested in.
BEWARE OF SPOILERS BELOW!
It’s crazy to think that, as opposed to the five MCU films it took to get to the Avengers, we’re already watching the Justice League form on the big screen after only two in the DCEU. With Superman dead, the world is in mourning. After the battle with Doomsday & Superman, Batman (Ben Affleck) realizes there are greater enemies on the horizon that he won’t be able to face alone. Along with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the two of them go about recruiting the supers (Aquaman, Cyborg & Flash) Bruce came across in Batman V Superman. While this is happening, one of Darkseid’s lieutenants Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), is slowly amassing his army of Parademons to find the three mother boxes (these are the boxes first introduced in Batman V Superman that transformed Victor Stone into Cyborg) hidden across Atlantis, Themyscira & Earth. With these boxes, he will be able to recreate his home world on Earth. There’s a lot going on in this film, with tons of groundwork being laid for future films. This leads to the only issue I would say I had with Justice League, which is that it couldn’t have hurt to have been a bit longer. Another hour could have helped flesh out Aquaman, Flash, Cyborg & Steppenwolf a bit more for viewers unfamiliar with them. The breakneck pace was fine for me, I already know these characters, but I can see others probably having an issue with this.
Considering Joss Whedon took over directing duty for Zack Snyder after Zack had to leave filming due to a family tragedy, the film still flows well. You can see some influence from Whedon when it comes to the dialogue and humor (which has me pumped for his Batgirl movie), especially near the end, but this still very much feels like a Zack Snyder film. The movie is gorgeous. There’s also some really great action scenes here. From the fight with Steppenwolf in the tunnels underneath Gotham Harbor (Flash getting a pep talk from Batman on how to “do battle” is hilarious”), to the final battle with an enormous army of Parademons in Russia. Seeing the team work together and overcome obstacles is a blast to watch. There’s also some great emotional weight added once Superman (SURPRISE! HE’S NOT DEAD!) has returned. One scene in particular with his mother Martha (Diane MARTHA! Lane) pulled at my heart strings (I’m not crying….you’re crying).
The cast all do a remarkable job. Ezra Miller is excellent as the Barry Allen/Flash. He reminded me of Tom Holland as Spider-Man. He’s extremely clumsy. He’s been thrown into this new world of heroes with zero training. Barry is just so eager and excited to be a part of the whole experience that you can’t help but be excited along with him. Gal Gadot continues to inspire as Wonder Woman. My daughter was in awe every time she was on screen kicking ass. Henry Cavill as Superman isn’t the brooding hero we’ve seen in the past two films. He’s the Superman you know and love, just a bit more ready to dish out some major beat downs. There’s some funny moments and great chemistry between him and the Flash, and it’s a relationship I’m looking forward to seeing develop in the future. Jason Momoa is a badass as Aquaman, and he has one of the funniest scenes in the movie involving Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth. Ray Fisher is great as Cyborg. He’s just a kid trying to understand the changes his body is going through (it’s like puberty X 1000). He’s struggling with gaining control of himself, and Ray plays the role with a serious face, giving the character humanity behind “the monster”. The biggest surprise for me out of the whole cast though was Ben Affleck as Batman. He still has his serious side, but he’s also full of hope. He’s more open to this world, and he feels Earth needs Superman more than him. It’s a departure from the anger and hatred he showed in BVS. You can see how his character has grown, and I can imagine this change will only continue as the Justice League grows (bring on Green Lantern). The only misfire is with the villain Steppenwolf. Due to the short run time, he basically becomes every Marvel movie villain ever (Loki being the exception). A bit more time could have fleshed out his story and made the tease for Darkseid more apparent. If you’re not a comic book reader, dropping his name would mean nothing to you. He’s essentially the Thanos of the DC universe. Yes, you should be excited for the build up to him.
Overall, Justice League delivered for me. There’s action, emotion, and laughs. If you can tell me with a straight face you found this film boring, you must frequently sky dive naked from an airplane. Even though it crams a ton of stuff into its two hour run time, and we still don’t fully know the backstory behind Aquaman, Cyborg & Flash, there’s plenty that’s teased and lots to enjoy. Justice League sets up a DCEU that I can’t wait to watch unfold on the big screen. Go see it. Now. – NVJ